Penn State’s Strategic Plan takes on climate change

I am so proud of my alma mater, the place where I work, and the place where my both my parents worked. Penn State administration has taken a decisive step toward publicly tackling climate change. As the co-author of the letter cited in this story, it is so gratifying to have been joined by more than 40 other faculty from dozens of departments and across the commonwealth, hundreds of Pennsylvanians, and thousands of others from across the globe to tell Penn State that we are ready for it to be a strong support network. I have special thanks for several of the faculty and community members who signed and went to extra lengths to deliver and develop the letter and petition. You know who you are.

As the Energy University, “we are…” going to do incredible things.

State Impact PA has a story on it here.

Penn State University Old Main

It says,

Penn State University is addressing the threat of climate change in an update of its five-year strategic plan, following pressure from students, faculty, and staff. Last month they delivered an online petition to university administrators, which attracted 7,180 signatures from people around nation and the globe.

“It’s a really huge step for this university,” says Peter Buckland, a fellow at the school’s Sustainability Institute. He co-authored the petition along with history and religious studies professor, Jonathan Brockopp.

“I would hope it means we’re going to see a transition in operational priorities and research proprieties that move from coal, oil, and gas to wind, solar, and energy conservation,” says Buckland.

Later on, Nick Jones is quoted as saying, “A commitment to sustainability was always a foundational in the strategic plan. Based in part on suggestions we received from a number of people in the broad plan review process, we used language in the final version that was both explicit about and strengthening that commitment.”

Three things I want to note: First, my quoted statements reflect my preferences and not the will of the administration. Second, I do not speak for Penn State’s Sustainability Institute. I think that’s fairly clear in the article, but it bears noting again. Third, I think it’s really important to note that our petition was one part of what’s happened. For several years, people have been actively working to move Penn State administrators to publicly address climate change. But more importantly, folks in operations, outreach, research, and teaching have been taking it very seriously. We have been persisting in our work to persuade the leadership–step by step–that collectively we bear a moral and social responsibility to deal with these pressing problems.

Universities have historically moved society forward on civil rights and many other important social issues. This is the next step–making our societies and economies more consonant with the more-than-human world. Now the hard and meaningful work of implementing it will come to be. Let’s roll up our sleeves and do this thing.



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